The Instagram team is now working on a solution to prevent users from receiving inappropriate naked photographs in their direct messages. In response to an app researcher’s publication of an early photograph of the tool, Instagram’s parent company, Meta, acknowledged to The Verge that the feature was in development.
Meta claims that the currently experimental user settings will allow users to avoid seeing nude photographs and other unpleasant content. The internet giant compared these safeguards to its “Hidden Words” function, which blocks DM requests with potentially harmful language automatically.
Instagram is currently developing a feature to prevent users from seeing naked users in private messages.
Naked people in images sent in chats won’t be visible because of the technology on your device. Pictures are inaccessible to Instagram. pic.twitter.com/iA4wO89DFd
Tweet from Alessandro Paluzzi (@alex193a): “19 September 2022”
Meta claims that the technology will prevent it from viewing the actual messages or sharing them with any third parties. Meta spokeswoman Liz Fernandez stated, “We’re working closely with experts to ensure these new capabilities respect people’s privacy while giving them control over the messages they receive.”
As testing nears, Meta promises to release additional information about the new functionality.
British group Center for Countering Digital Hate published research earlier this year finding that Instagram’s systems did not take action on 90% of image-based abusive direct messages sent to prominent women. The “hidden words” technology could not entirely filter out swear words like “b*tch” when many women received sexual photographs from men.
However, a third of women under the age of 35 reported experiencing sexual harassment online, according to research published by the Pew Research Center in 2016.
The development of the new Instagram function coincides with the potential passage of the Online Safety Bill in the UK Parliament, which would make cyber flashing, the act of sending unsolicited sexual messages to strangers online (typically women), a criminal violation.
However, cyber flashing is only considered a misdemeanour in the state of Texas as of 2019. Despite the fact that some professionals belief that it can be just as mentally devastating as in-person sexual abuse, it remains illegal.
Professor Clare McGlynn of Durham Law School, a specialist on image-based sexual abuse, told HuffPost, “Some will come forward and claim [cyber flashing] is innocuous.”
Everyone has trouble getting over the fact that they aren’t in the same room together, but sexual assault can’t be prioritized. Sexual assault is incredibly harmful, and different types of sexual misconduct can have similar effects on various victims.